Its great to get away and nice to get back. Julie and I went off to Sicily for our honeymoon. I had left the allotment reasonably tidy before we left with the watering system on a constant drip 24 hours per day. The good news is that everything survived the two week break, the bad news is that some plants went bananas.
Courgette to the left marrow to the right
At this time of year courgettes should be picked daily. They can grow from the size of a little finger to perhaps a handspan (about 20 cms the right size for picking) in a single day. Left longer they develop into marrows. Which was what I had after two weeks, a marrow mountain.
I have grown three varieties of courgette this year, a dark green variety, a yellow and a pale green, all produced marrows. We had to get innovative with marrows. In the last couple of weeks we have replaced pasta with marrow/courgette and had lasagne – just replace pasta sheets with marrow slices, mousaka – replace aubergine, marrow, tomato and sausage sauce over pasta, roasted marrow, stuffed marrow, grilled marrow, barbequed marrow. It’s fair to say we are marrowed out.
Whilst away Julie spotted a garden supply shop in a small town called Piazza Armerina. It had a display rack of local Sicilian veg seeds. I couldn’t resist so we ended up with Violetta di Firenze aubergines, Fagiolo Rampicante haricot beans, Tonda Chiarra di Toscana zucchini, Cilegia Piccante chilli and the magnificently named Serpente de Sicilia zucca.
We had seen a peculiar veg for sale on the markets, about 1.5 metres long and narrow in girth, with a pale green smooth skin. We had also seen buckets of leaves and stalks being sold, the leaves looked like a cross between that of melon and cucumber but we did not associate the two until we saw the zucca seeds. Apparently this squash can grow to over 2 metres in length and you can also eat the growing tips. Sown in June they should be ready for November.
I was inspired to create what will become, over the next 12 months, an Italian garden so, after sorting the rest of the plot out, I dug as much horse manure (John presented me with two trailer loads as a wedding present – how good is that?) and compost as I could find into a patch of very clay ground and turned the water on for a couple of days. I will keep you informed of progress.
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